Bruce Kerr shares his tips on how to avoid the dreaded computer lag.
Bruce Kerr shares his tips on how to avoid the dreaded computer lag.

BYTE ME: Preventing the dreaded computer lag

FOLLOWING on from last week, today we continue to discuss why a computer appears to slow down over time and how we can reduce or ‘manage’ this slow down.

As we have already mentioned, a computers’ brain (the CPU) does not slow down with age, but rather the software it is required to run becomes more complex over time.

The above situation has the effect of making your PC ‘appear’ to run slower, which is further compounded by the fact that you are likely to install more software each year.

Just think about it – how often do you find or hear about a new software application that some of your friends have started using, which they recommend to you?

Applications such as new photo editors, Zoom/Skype type applications, reminders or sticky notes and instant communication software comes to mind.

For every new software application that you install, there is a slight performance hit to your computer and the risk of software conflicts.

Adding extra software applications to your PC is a little like adding extra load to your car – you must expect a slight performance decrease.

Staying on the car analogy for a while longer, if the car happens to be a V8 then the performance decrease will not be as pronounced as if it were a 4 cylinder.

The same can be said here about computers.

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If you have a powerful modern PC, then adding extra software can often result in very little perceived effect in performance, however the same software added to an already underpowered and slow PC simply makes it one step less usable.

It is around this point that so many people decide to shift all their photos or documents off the PC and onto an external backup drive – big mistake!

User data such as photos and documents does not slow a PC down like installing extra software does.

Whether you have 10 photos or 10,000 photos on you PC will have zero effect on its performance – as long as there is at least 10 per cent free space on the internal drive.

The above is one of the biggest ‘misinformation’ myths surrounding computers and often leads to disaster.

Once you have moved all your precious photos or files off the PC and onto a backup drive, the chances of totally losing those files increases.

Often sold as ‘backup’ devices, USB thumb drives and external hard drives do not come close to being infallible.

There is much greater chance of having these devices lost, stolen or dropped and they can easily fail to be recognised next time you plug them into a PC.

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The definition of a ‘backup’ device is “a device that you place a secondary copy of the original files onto”.

Used in this manner you will keep the ‘original’ copy of your photos and files on your PC and transfer a ‘copy’ of these onto a backup drive – performing this task whenever you have made significant changes to the originals.

This is the basis of a proper backup system and it is also a system that will not be responsible for slowing your PC down.

Last week we talked about CPU power ratings and their effect on perceived computer speed, so we still need to finish addressing that topic.

We also need to discuss what computer specifications you should be looking for with your next PC purchase – we need to arm you with the ability to cut through the advertising jargon and ‘sales speak’ and be able to compare apples with apples.

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to and Bruce is still contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.